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Kaiser employee asks council for help

KIM VICKNAIR / L’Observateur / September 23, 1998

VACHERIE – The St. James Parish Council heard from a Kaiser Aluminumemployee at their Sept. 15 meetng, who appealed for peaceful negotiationsbetween Kaiser Aluminum and the United Steelworkers of America.

The contract between the two organizations expires Sept. 30. The council learned from Kaiser and the USWA’s negotiation committee that very little progress has been achieved in local negotiations.

To avoid a work stoppage, St. James Council members have asked thesetwo organizations to renegotiate the contract to include a benefit package attractive to the steelworkers, while at the same time allowing Kaiser Aluminum to maintain a competitive position in the aluminum market.

District Councilman Timothy Roussel, along with St. James Parish SheriffWilly Martin, planned to meet with Kaiser businessmen this week to get an update on the aluminum market.

During the recent weather conditions, the parish declared a state of emergency, with operations personnel on duty 24 hours to monitor water pumps and ensure that they were not overheating. There are severalagencies monitoring those areas more prone to flooding, specifically the South Vacherie and Grand Point areas.

Parish President Dale Hymel said the parish had approximately 10,000 sandbags available, along 14 streets within the parish, five on the East Bank and nine on the West Bank. Inmates from Hunt Correctional Institutefilled 5,000 sandbags, all of which were used to protect against the backwater and rainfall.

In another matter, the Community Development Block Grant program, which is currently under way in St. James Parish, is a $48,000 grant to dostreet overlays in the low-to-moderate income areas. This program is duefor completion by the end of October.

St. James Parish is also participating in a Volunteer Recognition Programgeared toward recognizing volunteer personnel throughout the parish. Thecouncil will invite the fire chief and volunteers from six fire departments to the next council meeting, and a reception will be held in their honor.

The Parish Council also learned that applications are still being taken from residents for the Energy Assistance Program. The parish had $53,000in funds to assist the community with high utility costs and plans to begin purchasing air-conditioner units to be given to those residents considered eligible for this program.

Hymel also discussed the modifications made to the pilot transit program available to the residents of St. James Parish, which has had two transitbuses in operation on the east bank and two on the west bank. The parishwas in possession of a spare bus, and it will be used as the fifth transit bus in the program.

These buses are used to transport residents to designated locations, such as the Vacherie and Convent courthouses, St. James Parish Hospital andWinn-Dixie.

Officials felt there was a need to add a fifth transit bus to the operation as some of the residents were being transported by way of the ARC bus, which is a transport vehicle for mentally retarded citizens. The fifthtransit bus will be available to residents parishwide.

Charges for the transit bus service are 50 cents in one direction, with no charge for welfare recipients.

The Parish Council also approved a resolution to urge the repeal of Act 169 of the 1997 Regular Legislative Session which pertains to Basic Care Facilities. This resolution identifies how the passing of Act 169 threatensthe stability of the hospitals in Louisiana. The act was an amendment tolegislation passed in 1990, which would have allowed struggling rural hospitals an opportunity to ease themselves into a less restrictive licensure category, known as a Basic Care Facility.

However, officials said, by allowing the licensure of such a facility it would jeopardize the health and welfare of patients by removing them from a hospital and placing them in an institution that would not have the full services and staff of a licensed and certified hospital. The councilurged the repeal of this act in order to safeguard the safety and health of patients receiving overnight inpatient care and to ensure that these facilities and are fully equipped and prepared for all emergencies and contingencies.

In other business, the Parish Council Announced that all public offices will be closed on Nov. 3 in observanceof All Saints Day.

Agreed to invite a representative from the Ascension/St. James AirportAuthority to attend a council meeting to explain their policy in procuring funds to buy land for build more hangars at the existing airport.

Announced the 1998 assessment total for real and personal property in and for St. James Parish. The 1998 total is $237,481,329, a $4.7 million(or 2 percent) increase from last year’s assessment.

Approved a resolution to accept the bid of Cazenave Motor Co., for onepickup truck for the Department of Operations.

Approved the resolution authorizing the parish president to proclaim the week of Oct. 4-10 as Fire Prevention Week in St. James Parish. Approved the resolution to affirm the parish president’s action in proclaiming Sept. 18 as United Way Day in St. James Parish. United Way’smission is to increase the organized capacity of people in the capital area to care for one another by uniting individuals and organizations to identify and address community needs. The kick-off for this event was held at theCentroplex in Baton Rouge.

Congratulated Brandy St. Pierre for being chosen as Miss St. JamesParish. St. Pierre was a contestant in the 47th Miss St. James ParishPageant held July 25. She also won the fashion award for this event andwill represent St. James Parish at the State Sugar Queen Festival in NewIberia this weekend.

Congratulated Ashley Deslatte for being chosen as Miss Teen St. JamesParish. Deslatte was a contestant in the seventh Miss Teen St. JamesParish Pageant held on July 25. She will be representing St. James Parishat numerous fairs and festivals throughout the state during the upcoming year.

Received bids from four companies for the purchase of 10-inch waterline pipes for the East Bank water system.

The council approved the bid submitted by Baton Rouge Winwater Works in the amount of $44,900 for the purchase of 10,000 feet of 10-inch waterline pipe.

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